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No Landscape Architects on Olympic Design Panel

A preliminary rendering shows a plan for a landscape park linking key venues for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The Thames River is at top. Image:

Landscape Architects were recently dropped from the design team for the 2012 Games in London. British LAs aren't thrilled with the development.

Kathryn Moore, of the "royal chartered" Landscape Institute, wrote an opinion piece "London Games Need Landscape Architects" in the June 10 Building Design (a London weekly for architects).

"To exclude a key environmental design profession from the design oversight of a project involving so much precious land could damage the promise of a proud, life-enhancing legacy," Moore writes.

London narrowly wrangled from Paris the right to host the 2012 Olympic Games.

The Olympic site comprises 200 hectares (500 acres) in the Stratford area of east London.

"It incorporates some of the London boroughs most in need of investment and regeneration, some of the least developed land in the southeast--nature reserves and neglected corners, rivers, canals, pylons and roads," Moore writes.

The master planning, Moore asserts, started with the proposition that the Olympic Park landscape--to include transport infrastructure, stadiums and housing--would not just be an inspired piece of work to house the 17-day event, but "an epoch-making chance to remake a complete subregion of southeast England--and of western Europe, no less."

But less than a year after London won the Games, Moore is concerned that what started out right is now going astray. The Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) design panel has been announced--without any landscape architects. The ODA is the public body responsible for ensuring delivery of the permanent Games' venues, infrastructure and facilities for London and the U.K.

"Without the full range of design disciplines and experience on board," Moore writes, "I fear that the chances of doing the best possible place-making in this landscape may falter."

Jack Lemley is chairman of the ODA. From 1989 until 1993 Lemley was the CEO of Transmanche-Link, the consortium of five British and five French companies that designed and built the Channel Tunnel.

Jason Prior, EDAW's European regional vice president, an urban designer, landscape architect and environmental planner who specializes in leading multidisciplinary teams for complex design and planning projects, led the team providing the Olympic and Legacy master plans that served as part of London's bid for the 2012 Games.

Moore adds: "The built environment professions are under huge pressure to evolve into multidisciplinary animals. Landscape architecture is already there. It is the environment and design profession for the 21st century, approaching interventions into the landscape holistically to encompass technical expertise, design skill, ecology and human needs. ... To exclude a key environmental design profession from the design oversight of a project involving so much precious land could damage the promise of a proud, life-enhancing legacy. With the landscape providing the context for the entire site, a strategy aiming for a sustainable legacy must be informed by landscape design experts every step of the way. The ODA should see its panel as work in progress and think 'landscape, landscape, landscape' before it is too late."


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December 9, 2019, 10:20 am PDT

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